Mrs. Murray is a descendent of one of the oldest families in Lakeville, her mother having been a Cleaveland. The Cleavelands had settled in Lakeville in eighteen ten, acquired much land in the area which they farmed. Until forty years ago, Mrs. Murray had not been a full-time resident of Lakeville. From a very early age, however, she spent vacations and holidays with her grandmother and aunts in the house which is now her home. She has many memories of Lakeville and her family which she recounts in this oral history.
[N.B. – Some narration was not recorded at the end of side one of the tape. Also, on side two, the discourse ends quite abruptly.]
July 6, 1951
RS: Mrs. Murray, what is your full name?
LM: Lucile Elizabeth Wilcox Murray.
RS: Do you mind telling your date of birth?
LM: My date of birth, February 12, 1896.
RS: How long have you been living in Lakeville?
LM. The family has been living for about one hundred thirty -four /five years in this house. I was not born here. My grandmother and aunt were the ones who lived here and I was brought here very often, vacations, Christmas time, summers, so that I got to be thoroughly well-acquainted with, let’s say, the natives of Lakeville.
RS: Yes. Could you tell about the background of this property? I know that your grandfather actually had this house originally, but the history goes back even before that.
LM: My grandfather was born in 1797. He was living while Washington still had two years to go. He was one of a number of sons of Bradford Cleaveland who was married to Eunice Farnam, who was the sister of Peter Farnam, who ran at that time and later on, the Farnam Tavern.
RS: Certainly, Farnam and Cleaveland were two very famous names here in Lakeville.
LM: My grandfather was educated at the Berkshire Medical Institute, which is long gone out of existence. He and other young men of his class in medicine went to New York and set up independent practices down there. My grandfather had a pharmacy, was also a dentist and a doctor all rolled into one, near the Battery and he lived there until 1556. But ten years before, he had begun buying property on Farnum Road on both sides up to about where the Cannons used to live, which was, as you know, was one of the Post Road taverns, the same as Farnum Tavern was and many more in this whole area.
They did not come up here to live for ten years, but when they did, he was retired from medical practice in New York. He came up here to farm and so this property became farm land which was almost a part and parcel of what his brother Fred had taken over after the death of their parents.
RS: The property, I know, was vastly different in that time. We were talking the last time about the quarry.
LM: Well, the quarry was on Farnam Road, on the southern side, and was, of course on this property that my grandfather had begun buying in 1846. I do not know anything much about the operation of the quarry or who operated it. But I believe that the stone for the basin of Governor Holley’s so-called mansion, in those days, was taken out of that hole. My grandfather had given Governor Holley a ninety-nine year lease and the condition was that that stone was to be used for the foundation of his new home. It was soon discovered, or somewhat after that it was discovered, that Governor Holley was continuing to take out the stones which became the foundation for the present Lakeville Journal, which was a knife factory afterwards. So my grandfather put an injunction on his proceeding further and it reverted to our ownership in 1856. I could have reclaimed this, probably had to pay back taxes because I know nothing about whose property it was on, who paid the taxes all those years, but I thought I had plenty of ground without that hole.
RS: Without another hole.
RS: We say, Mrs. Murray, that the house when your grandfather moved here was very small.
LM: Very small. It was….I don’t know whether you call it a cracker box or not, but it was rectangular, clapboard with an extension in the rear which was, at least summer kitchen and probably in the beginning was used all year round. I don’t know, but it was gradually added to as the time went on.
RS: How large a family did your grandfather have?
LM: I cannot tell you how many brothers there were. Somewhere in this house I know there is a list of their names, but they scattered so that there was only by 1856, there was only Fred Cleaveland living in what we’ve always called the sawmill house because the boring mill; which their parents had had in Revolutionary times had turned into a sawmill which he operated, and to which all people having tree trunks to be sliced up would bring them to be cut.
RS: Where is that sawmill, or where was that sawmill located?
LM: That is the sawmill on Cleaveland Road.
RS: I see.
LM: Which Ralph Ingersoll once lived in and Georges Simenon, the French writer, once lived there, and during my lifetime a number of other people.
RS: Now, we’ve just had a very wet Fourth of July weekend here in Lakeville and the town activities were very festive despite the rain. There were fireworks and especially thrilling was the opening of the new wing at the Scoville Memorial Library. I wonder, Mrs. Murray, if you could go back in your memory to what you may have done as a little girl to celebrate Fourth of July here in Lakeville.
LM: Well, I notice a good many fire crackers in this general area being shot off and I thought there was a law against it, but they went off nevertheless. In my childhood there would have been many more.
RS: Oh, really.
LM: It would have been much noisier. Probably the celebration was mainly picnics, probably, at the grove which in my childhood had been given over to the use of town people by the owners, who were Governor Holley’s family. So that I can remember over there, tents being set up and townspeople going that far away from home to tents, but probably a great many of the townspeople would go there with their picnics because there were no ovens, there was nothing much but just the land at that time. But otherwise I imagine there were family parties with ice cream having been made previously and everybody having helped to grind it, to freeze it, so I cannot think of anything very hilarious.
RS: But lots of noise.
LM: Lots of noise. Once in a while a cannon. I don’t know where the cannon were located, but once in a while you knew that the boom came from no fire cracker.
RS: Yes. When you and your family….Could you tell me just a little bit about your mother and father.
LM: Well, to go back to my grandfather being a doctor, still in New York City, he married a young English girl who came over in 1541 on a sailing vessel. She…. The story is, what I have been told, I suppose it’s true, that she went probably to have a tooth pulled, because, as I have said, he pulled teeth, was a doctor and had somebody run the pharmacy at the same time. While she was sitting in whatever kind of a chair, it was a dentist chair to him, and he was about fifty years old at that time, and while she was in the chair, he kissed her.
LM: Very! Indignant, she slapped him in the face. So, he said to her, “Well, if you don’t like it, I’ll take it back.” So he kissed her again, so from then on the romance, such as it might have been, developed and they were married and they had eight children, of whom the eldest was Almira Cleaveland whose name has been well-known in this area for many years, probably less so now. But it used to be very well known.
RS: What did he do in this area?
LM; In this area? He came up to farm on the land which he had acquired during the previous ten years and in cooperation with Fred, his brother, whose land was around the sawmill house, which was at tire end of Cleaveland Street, now named, and it spread all over the meadows up to the rear of Main Street. We always think of it as Myron Holley area, and extended toward the north quite a distance, I don’t know to how many meadows, and then on eastward to include the, ah, to run into, at least, the property which was on the north side of Farnam Road that my grandfather had acquired. So, he came up to farm it, because although he had been a doctor, he did not like New York City and he came up at the drop of a hat to help his brother, Fred, now and then. But he would come up on the noon train, the train on the railroad and get off and walk over the mountain, we called it, beyond Brinton Hill. He would come across over to his brother, Fred’s. That was before his marriage. So he came up and he farmed what I now have and what he began later on to sell off the property on both sides of Farnam Road to people who built the houses that are now there.
RS: Yes. You said your grandfather had eight children.
LM: Eight children. My mother was the youngest. So that he, having been born in 1797, was a grandfather to her. So she was a little girl, he an old man, walking around after he ceased to be able to farm and so forth.
RS: Yes. So your mother actually, physically, grew up here.
LM: My mother was born and grew up here. Only the two first children, Almira Cleaveland and Robert Cleaveland, were born in New York before 1866 when they came up here. All the others were born here.
RS: Could you tell me a little bit about your mother and father? What did your father do?
LM: My mother was sent to Winsted for her education, secondary education, we would call it now, because there were good schools there. So that she was graduated, I do not believe it was Gilbert, because I don’t think Gilbert School was in existence then, but I’m not sure. At any rate, she boarded in Winsted and went to school there for the length of their term there, for their instruction. Then she was a teacher at Miss Weed’s School, which was up in Lakeville. I have pictures of the building in which she taught and Miss Weed sitting in a wagon, a horse and buggy wagon, very erect. There were probably two teachers to a handful of private students then.
I do not know exactly how my mother met my father. He was a Methodist minister and went to Drew Seminary and to Boston University, in the school of theology. He was assigned to, when he became a Methodist minister, to a pastorate near Bedford, New York. I do not know exactly where and when my mother and he met, but they v/ere married in the Lakeville church.
RS: Oh, they were?
LM: They were married in the Lakeville church.
RS: Is that the same church that stands there now?
LM: That’s the same church, yes. It looked very little different from what it does now, probably. I have pictures of that church at a later time when Emeline Barnett was married, who was a sister, I think of Henry Barnett, who was the father of Bill Barnett.
RS: Oh, yes. Bill Barnett, our longtime First Selectman.
RS: How many brothers and sisters do you have?
LM: I have no brothers and sisters. I never had any. I have been an only child and, of course, I have been accused of being spoiled.
RS: [laughter] well, 1 don’t see any or that in you, so as a child you traveled?
LM: I came here for vacations with my mother or both of them, Christmas.
RS: At that time you were very little?
LM: At first, I believe, brought at the age of six months from a pastorate. .. I was born in Plattekill, New York, which was ten miles back of Newburgh, New York, and I suppose it was either from that pastorate or another one across the river that I was brought over the Poughkeepsie Bridge. I can remember my mother being a little fearful of going over the Poughkeepsie Bridge and being very glad when she got across. It has always amused me. But I was brought here at that early age and then continued on to the…. coming just to visit my grandmother and aunt and for long stretches in the summer vacation.
RS: Did you….I’m sure you looked forward tremendously to coming here in the summer time.
LM: I suppose so.
RS: [laughs] Well, I think…
LM: It was like home to me. In fact, it is the only place where I feel that I have any roots because a Methodist minister moves, at least used to move, every three years, certainly. Occasionally, would not be moved before he had been there five years in a given pastorate, but I lived in seven different counties in New York State. So we were uprooted and had to pack all our belongings and send them by freight and so on, every so often. So this was a stabilizing place where I felt that it was my home. My grandchildren feel the same about it.
RS: When you came with your mother and father, did you arrive here by train?
LM: Oh, yes. We arrived on the Central New England coming from Millerton and Boston Corners, making connection with the Harlem Division of the New York Central. It must have been there, I know it must have been there, and getting here on the Central New England.
RS: Is the little railroad station in Lakeville the one at which you arrived?
LM: Exactly. That’s the one at which we arrived and we traveled on it going both toward the river and away from the river to Norfolk, Conn, because for four years my father was the pastor of a small Methodist church in Norfolk, which has long gone out of existence. But between the ages of six, my age of six and ten, we lived in Norfolk. Of course, that was a very short distance on the CNE back to Lakeville. We came much more often then, I suppose, than ever before or afterward.
RS: You told me once when you were visiting at our house which is on Lake Wononscopomuc the railroad actually went right through the place of our second house.
LM: Yes. I said to your husband, as he sat on your porch extension, “I am sitting right on the Central New England steps.” He said, nobody had ever told him that.
RS: We had no idea. It seemed to be a lovely view for a railroad train.
LM: Well, the railroad meandered, as I think of it, to Ore Hill at a very leisurely pace, and we went around curves and so on and it seemed to be very, very green. As for seeing the lake I don’t remember that we saw it beyond the open space where now you can view it from the highway.
LM: It was decidedly a rural railway.
RS: Was that your main means of transportation when you were going from one place to another?
LM: Yes. Everything else was just horse and buggy. To get from place to place, the railroads were our only way. That’s all.
RS: When you were here in the summertime, I would guess that most of the produce was grown right here. You didn’t have to worry about going to the store for your vegetables.
LM: Well, yes and no. Probably before my birth, the end of the 19th century, and while my grandfather was still living (he died in 1663) and it must have been in a period when he was farming it here that that would be true. After that, we went to the local store and then there was Sylvernale, over the hill on Farnam Road. Bailey, I remember seeing when I was, as a child, pushing a wheelbarrow full of his produce up Roberts Hill where the outlet for his garden was. He was a very, very good truck, farmer.
RS: Was Roberts store, excuse me, on Farnam Road?
LM: No. Roberts store was now where the big food…
RS: Oh, where the market is?
LM: Yes. That building was there. I have pictures of it and I know many people in town that have pictures of it. It was a three, two or three, story building, much higher. It had an auditorium in it to which shows would come. It also had apartments, not many of them, but I know that I have been to at least one of them. Miss Rock was a sewing teacher, was a seamstress to which everybody, to whom everybody went for sewing. She would go to the homes to sew dresses, and so on, but she had her dwelling there in that building.
I can remember going with my uncle. Bob Cleaveland, to some sort of a show there. I don’t remember much about it, except that I went with him one night to one of the traveling shows that were there. But the store itself was the big store for many years.
RS: Did they sell dry goods as well as….
LM: Yes. They sold….It was almost like a country general store. I think of it as not so much the kind of country store that the White Hart Inn has, but something that was more of an emporium, let’s say, and it did have everything. I can remember taking a little tin pail, a little pint I guess it would have been, the smallest kind of tin pail that you would ever have seen, going to the store after peanut butter. They would grind the peanuts, put it into the pail and I think I paid fifteen cents for whatever was in the pail.
RS: [laughs]We are going back to that now, again.
LM: I suppose they are, at the high cost of peanut butter.
RS: And also much more health conscious than they used to be.
LM: But that was the general store. Then up in Salisbury they would have had their general store. I don’t remember much about what went on up there at my early age.
RS: And since it wasn’t too far away, you probably usually walked to the store.
LM: Oh, yes, definitely. That is why we were so glad that, I suppose my grandfather had the final vote, but that they came to live in this house and prepare it for, make it more suitable for living. They had a lot of things to do, windows and things. I don’t know the extent of it, but we were very glad. It was that much nearer than the house over beyond where Esther Frink lived for many years. Her family lived in the home that burned down and has been rebuilt. I cannot think right now of the name of the people who own it, but that’s quite a distance beyond It would have been much more of a hardship to have to walk from there every time you went to the station or went to the store. So we were very glad when they settled on this place and then began to build onto it as the years went along
RS: What would a typical summer day have been? Do you remember when you were, let’s say, an early teenager? Were there activities in town as we have today, the…
LM: Well, there was swimming, certainly swimming. I had several Miriam Everts was one of them and Virginia Thrall was the other, that were my closest girlfriends.
RS: Is Miriam Everts related to Dr. Evarts?
LM: No. Her name is spelled E-V-E-R-T-S. Her sister still lives on Montgomery Street. Tryphena, I should know and I do know, but I cannot think of her name, but she was a younger sister and she still lives on Montgomery Street where Miriam lived with her grandmother, I think it was. We went to school. There was one year when I was, ummm, it would have been a year for me to be in the seventh grade, wherever I was. My father did not take a pastorate that year, but we were here with my grandmother and I was sent to the local school. So my contacts with the young people of my age really stem from those that I knew from the seventh grade. Miss Cullen[?], who was a very good teacher. The school was where the post office now is and that was an upper and a lower, probably four room school, I’m not sure. But at any rate, I was in the seventh grade
with Paul Cleaveland, Floyd Eggleston, Clifford Warner, of Ore Hill, Lisa, Lisa somebody.
RS: What a memory you have, Mrs. Murray!
LM: And some other students’ names probably will pop into my mind when I wasn’t trying to remember it. I knew those young people and then, of course, we always went to the Methodist Sunday School. So any young people there my age I knew and that makes it possible for me to have a quite vivid picture of Bill Barnett sitting, as a little boy, in one of the smaller chairs in the Sunday school room section of the Parish House, the attached Parish House. His father, Henry, being Superintendent of the Sunday school, and he was sitting there very quietly waiting for Sunday school to begin. I have always thought of him sitting there, although I have known him through the years. He was younger, you see. I was older than that.
RS: Well, in the summertime you would swim and, ah, were there courses, were there classes given for young people?
LM: No. There was nothing of that kind that I remember. There was, of course, no beach. There was no lifeguard…
RS: At the grove.
LM: At the grove. There was a dock for the many boats that were there. The owner of the grove had given a concession over a great many years to the people who ran the ice cream and soft drinks and rented the boats.
RS: Even in those days you could buy…
LM: Yes, you could get a boat and go rowing if you want. I would have to say that I never went, I went into the water, but I never learned to swim until I was in college, which would have been from 1913, during the next couple of years. We had to take swimming, so I learned to swim, but not very well.
RS: I’m ashamed of you, Mrs. Murray, living right at the shore of Lake Wononscopomuc and not learning to swim.
LM: Well, you just learned, probably by just being thrown in, but most of the youngsters knew how to swim, I guess. We always went into the water, I mean we enjoyed going bathing and going into the water. It was perfect safe for a long distance out from the shore, as you know. It was at that time that Mr. Johnny Jordan had a shack over in the rear, about in a position where the recreation building is now, a small shack where he lived. He was a photographer and a pretty good one. He had a white horse and a wagon. He would be seen driving through the streets of Lakeville with children filling up the back of the wagon. He was a very interesting person. So he was there for quite a good many years with his photograph studio. He called it a studio. Later on he lived on Farnam Road, over beyond eastward from here, with a very interesting small shack, plus a cave. The cave part had been dug out of the rocks there which stretched down and out to the highway a few paces. But there had been built probably what we would call two little rooms now.
RS: In the cave?
LM: Yes, attached to that.
RS: I see.
LM: So that, as I remember, one went up the steps and went to an area which had been dug out, and then went into their dwelling, his dwelling.
LM: He later married. A Miss Kit who lived on Farnam Road, near the village and she died While they were there and then he was taken to a home, retirement home for his later years. But every day he would walk up to the village. He was a very spruce little man and a very kindly person. He always had little bouquets which he took to some of the women in the village.
RS: How lovely.
LM: Mrs. Ada Miller was one of them whom he always visited with his little bouquets and he always had a boutonniere himself for his lapel. But he walked in a linen suit and a straw hat and he walked every day up for his mail, I suppose, and to make his rounds.
RS: Yes. Where was the post office in those days?
LM: The post office was… now where was the post office? I’m not quite sure, I’m not quite sure because I know that the Winkworth’s house was in there between Ada Miller’s and what was then the schoolhouse (which was now the post office) and just where the post office….? Oh, I know, the post office was up in the Holley Block up on Main Street, across from the Salisbury Bank and Trust Co., and it was in there. So that, and there were some other shops all around. Harry Miller’s shop was there and there was another one or two, as I remember.
RS: What did Harry Miller sell?
LM: Ho was a plumber.
RS: Oh, I see.
LM: He was one of the two or three plumbers then in the system, Garrity being one of the others, I believe, even as long ago as that, and Bauman, also.
RS: Yes, they that are still…
LM: Yes, that’s right. And Leverty’s had a drug store. Leverty had a drug store on the exact corner opposite the bank, before you got to the shop which was Harry Miller’s display place, and so forth.
RS: Yes, well, that was a sizeable walk to go from Farnam Road to ah….But I guess in those days people did not think very much of it.
LM: The people now think that it is a terrible walk, but it is really no walk at all. I walk up to the lake and it is not too much for. ..
RS: Even now?
LM: I walk both ways easily, but I usually get a ride back that other people give me.
RS: Well, I think, Mrs. Murray, that we can continue this another time, because I have a lot of information here and I can draw from it and see you again.
LM: All right, whatever you say.
RS: Unless there is anything in particular that you would like to….
LM: I think nothing further, uh, unless it comes up later for some reason or other. I might talk a little bit more about the sawmill house as I remember it: today or another time.
RS: I would like to hear about that.
LM: Do you want to do it now?
RS: Why don’t we do it then?
LM: All right. As a child, of course, we went over to the sawmill house, which was no longer Cleaveland property. Fred and his two families were long gone. Frank Cleaveland was the son of his second wife and Ada and Ida Cleaveland, whom we refer to as the twins, which they were, were also Frank’s sisters, I believe. His first wife was the mother of five, their five children, the older of whom went to the Civil War. His name was Elijah, I think, not Elisha. My grandfather’s name was Elisha. But I think his was Elijah. He was probably fifteen or sixteen. He got no farther than some Camp down in Maryland or south of there, maybe Virginia, probably Maryland. He died of what was called — measles. It probably had another name.
RS: I never heard of it.
LM: But my grandfather, being a doctor, just before the time of Pasteur and Pasteur’s date is 1353, I believe, the discovery of bacteria germ. But my grandfather and other doctors, of course, would know something of what was going on, probably from medical journals of their day, so that when they ah…. They did not send Elijah’s body back, as I remember, but they wanted the quartermaster….was going to send his clothes and possessions back, but my grandfather said, “No, don’t let them be brought up here.” In spite of that, they were sent up here and five children died of that contamination, so that I might say that this first family was practically wiped out. I think his wife was one of those who were amongst the five maybe. I have somewhere, I have it written down exactly what their names were and so on, but that’s the general thing.
Later on he married a woman whom we have always referred to as Aunt Ann. She was a little bit of a woman, and as I have said, she was the mother of Frank, who was a very good carpenter in town and his twin sisters. Before I had ever seen Aunt Ann, one of my aunts was trying to joke with me and she said, “Aunt Ann is a great big woman.” I said, “Oh, yes”, because I pretended I had seen her before. “And she has a big strong voice.” “Oh, yes”. So that when we went over and I saw Aunt Ann I would have liked to see the expression on my face. But speaking of the twins, Henry Barnett, who was Bill Barnett’s father, had a brother Gardner. Gardner married one of the twins and that is why we feel sort of related to the Barnetts.
LM: The other twin married a man who had been born and grew up here around contemporary with my mother’s older sisters. He came back from the west where he had lived, came back to get a wife. My Aunt Mary who was one of my mother’s sisters, older. She used to be a candidate in his opinion and also Ida Cleaveland. Ada and Ida were the twins. It was Ida.
RS: I can understand your confusion.
LM: My Aunt Mary wasn’t going to marry anybody and I’m sure that she wasn’t trying to marry him. But Ida did. So she went west.
Well come back here to the sawmill road. When I was a child especially on a hot Sunday afternoon we would take pails, I don’t know who else was with me, probably the children of the neighborhood. I’m not sure, took pails over to the sawmill house where outside there was the most wonderful spring. Wonderful spring, which was probably about five feet in diameter, circular, with the piles [ ?] across on which it was safe to walk and dip your pails into the spring which was open and it probably was maybe a foot deep. The most glorious clear blue water, it was spring fed. That later was?????? maybe not, maybe somebody else into an electric pumping arrangement connected with the additions that he built on the sawmill house in the rear at the same time that he blasted out the rocks over towards the [?] eastward for a swimming pool. I remember that and then I remember playing around the big rock out there at the sawmill place. Of course, I know the story of the
END OF SIDE ONE
[Part of Mrs. Murray’s story was not recorded] two horses, I don’t think my grandfather did, but probably a hay rack or rick – what is it? No, a hay wagon. Rick is when you pile it up, isn’t it?
RS: Yes, I think so.
LM: But probably nothing but a box wagon, you know, for carrying things and people with a front seat up high. That was the way I picture it, I
don’t know that we had any picture more than that tintype. Did I ever show you the first pictures of the house that we had?
RS: You did.
LM: That would be the only one of which there would be shown any kind of a farm wagon.
RS: Were crops grown here, too?
LM: Well, yes, because all the meadows between here and the village Fred was…. I guess he owned them, I don’t know, I imagine it was part of the sawmill place. But then up there where they irradiate the water or something, toward the north, you know it is an open area up through to Salisbury…
RS: Oh, yes.
LM: …along the line of the old railroad. Those were meadows and up over in here, this was all open and not anything else. We all know how it is or anything. So that it would be anything that was around here that my grandfather would farm or with Fred, he’d help him, I don’t know. They worked together and I guess most adjacent farmers would come to help, or they would go to help them, at the peak of the season and when they had big jobs, gathering and stuff. That is the way I picture it. That was pretty much, I think, the pattern of life in the east and west, middle west, don’t you think?
RS: Oh, yes, I do. When you first stayed here on holidays and summers, you say that your grandmother and your aunt…
LM: And my aunt, yes.
RS: They were your mother’s.?
LM: My mother’s sisters and mother, yes.
RS: Did your aunt work in Lakeville?
LM: Aunt Almira taught school in Lakeville for over forty years.
RS: Oh, really?
LM: And she was highly regarded as an excellent teacher. When I was a little girl, when I was here, sometimes she would take me to visit the
school, which is where the Masons, the building where the children. .. where Mrs. Wardell has her small…
RS: Oh, yes.
LM: That was a double-decker school. I can remember first it wasn’t painted white or anything. It was just gray and the steps went up from the ground to the second big room above and then you went around under to get access to the ground floor. And Aunt Almira taught one of those. I don’t know whether it was the upper one, I don’t remember going up and down the stairs. But I do remember seeing her go out and ringing the bell for recess and to bring the children in again, you know.
LM: I think she always wore a black dress with a white apron, but maybe that is imagination, I don’t know. 1 remember sitting in the school as a little thing and that the bigger children were here.
I don’t know that you ever knew Martin, who was, I think he was a Selectman. Anyhow, he was ah, he had a garage over….something previous to the garage up on the village street and he was a very smart man. In fact, sometimes I think…. He was in Aunt Almira’s class and one day he got up, he was one of the big boys in the rear, and one day he stood up and he said, “Nobody has ever taught me, with, it was fractions or percentages or something, nobody has ever really taught me before. You’re the first one”. Or something to that effect. It really made me understand….I don’t know, maybe this was only in the family. We sometimes joked and thought maybe Aunt Almira had taught him too well, because he was kinda slick in his business, you know. We kind of laid it on her.
But, of course, her career of forty years was not comparable even to Aunt Elizabeth because she taught fifty-five years in the state of Connecticut beginning over here. Probably in the little one-room schoolhouse from Hotchkiss hill down Lime Rock, I’m not sure. I think we have a picture some place of her out in front of that school on the highway. But whether it’s that school or another one, I wouldn’t swear to it, but. I know that she started at the age of sixteen there and she ended in Hill House High School in New Haven after many years there. She had gotten her doctorate in literature, literary doctorate, at Yale at the time when they weren’t a dime a dozen and it was very much of a thing to do. She and Aunt Mary, who was about two years younger than she, I guess. They both went to normal school together after having started in country schools, you know, with only a country school education behind them. They had gone down to New Britain and graduated from there. Aunt Mary taught in Waterbury and then later in Washington, D.C., many years later. But Aunt Mary’s career was not quite as long as that. She retired and had fifteen years of retirement here before she died. But Aunt Elizabeth was in her seventies, I think seventy- four or something like that and she died on a trip abroad with our cousin Elliot. He was the first assistant superintendent of the white sections of the Washington, D.C. schools under Dr. Ballew. There’s a school named for him. After his death they name schools down there. At any rate, that’s what happened to her. Now, Aunt Almira did her teaching before pensions went in, the state school pensions. Did you ever know Lawyer Bell here? He was a representative in our, in Connecticut legislature. I don’t know whether….
RS: I did hear of him.
LM: Well, that was…. Weil, she wasn’t teaching. Now let me see, she had finished teaching in, well, by 1910, at least she was no longer teaching. I can barely remember her coming in from school and I must have been very young and it must have been sometime between 1900 and 1906 and 1910 that she didn’t teach anymore because she had to stay home with my grandmother who was blind.
RS: 1 see.
LM: So she gave up teaching. But that previous period of forty years had been a time when there were no pensions and so, of course, she had no pension. But Bell, lawyer Bell, quoting some of the townspeople called him hell-roaring Bell, because of his activities in the legislature. I don’t know, he must have ranted. I don’t know as I ever would have known him if I had seen him. I knew his son when I saw him on the street and the son lived in the house, is it Mrs. Mintz bought there on Millerton Road. Dr. Barr was a dentist and he was there, too, but I think that also Bell, Well it doesn’t matter, Bell’s son lived there a while. So Bell introduced in the legislature a bill to give to Aunt Almira and one other woman in Connecticut who was in the same condition, was retiring and so on, to give them a pension. So after that she got her pension like everyone.
RS: So she was really the start of the pension plan.
LM: That’s right. It was just coming into being at the time she was leaving and so she was just out, but that was what he did for her and there was another woman who was involved.
RS: Did she teach in that one school all forty years?
LM: Yes. Well, she must have taught various places. I can’t tell, but I do know that she taught there because I went there and saw. Later on, Mrs. ah Miss Roberts, who was the daughter of A.F. Roberts & Co., who was the storekeeper here where the food store is, that family. They live up in a white house: their family lived up in a white house which has another one of these children’s schools.
RS: Nursery school?
LM: Miss Roberts was quite public-spirited and she established the Girl’s Friendly Society of the Episcopal Church and they had their part of the building, at least, for their use and then later on after that the Masons bought the whole thing and then they rent to Mrs. Wardell I’m sure. They have the upper part and Mrs. Wardell has the lower part. That is the history of that building because the Girl’s Friendly Society was known as their place in between the time that I first spoke of.
RS: Mrs. Murray, was it Aunt Almira who bought the property on the lake?
LM: No. It was Aunt Elizabeth.
RS: Aunt Elizabeth.
LM: As a kind of an investment and so that we’d have something on the lake because Miss Bushnell, who was a woman farmer. I think I have seen her cutting hay on one of these big iron things they sit on, you know, and they go around. She sold off all that land which had been mainly apple orchards.
RS: Oh, really.
LM: And so people got slices that were this shape, more or less. They were kind of pie shaped all along there. I suppose that is when Mrs. Aller bought, but I am not sure whether the Aller property was part of that or not and I imagine that Betsy White’s husband bought from her. But all those sections out there came out of that which she sold.
RS: And she built a little summer cottage on that property, your sister.
LM: Oh. Yes, my mother. Aunt Elizabeth had Mama do the building. I mean to see to doing that. There were two cottages.
LM: And, you know, Holley had the red one bulldozed under so that she would have a view of the lake.
RS: Yes. Remember when the two cottages were built?
LM: Oh, yes, definitely
RS: In what year.
LM: Now, let me think. Well, the second one, now maybe I don’t remember when the first one was built and they might have been built by local people, but the second one certainly was not built until after my marriage and I was married June 1, 1915. It was my father- in-law and one of my brothers-in-law, two of my brothers-in-law who came down from Syracuse and brought along a regular carpenter up there and they built the gray cottage, the one Holley kept because I remember that, that was, well, that was when I was still having teacher friends from Syracuse come and visit me. I remember having a group of them over, two or three of them there one summer, and so I can sort of locate the year.
LM: But that would have been probably soon after 1915, when the gray one was built, but the red one had been there, but I don’t know about that. Somewhere I would say 1915- I suppose I’ve got records in the house that would tell.
RS: Well, I just meant approximately. When did you actually settle in Lakeville?
LM: Well, I haven’t….I have been coming here summers and so on when my mother was living and my Uncle Albert, one of her brothers, was living with her, but she died in 1946 and it became mine in 1946.
RS: I see.
LM: So, although I didn’t come here regularly, I mean I didn’t come for all year round, I was here summers and I wasn’t going on trips abroad with my friends or somewhere else, so that my possession dates from 1946.
RS: Yes. When you talk about your Aunt Elizabeth, I understand the fact that you inherited your love of travel.
LM: Yes, because I’m sure my aunts had a great deal to do with my bringing up. My grandmother would say that they were too lenient, that I was being spoiled and so on, you know. She was blind and sat in her rocking chair and she didn’t criticize too much, but occasionally she would state what she thought. But my aunts had a great influence on me, especially Aunt Elizabeth. I think she must have been my favorite. But her travels did, certainly did make me want to go, and then the fact I think, because Elliot was in the business, so to speak, when he was … and during the vacations…. that later on pushed it. But the friends I made in Washington were the ones who wanted to be on the move.
RS: Yes. You told me about taking a train from the Lakeville station to the foot of Ore Mine Hill.
RS: And that was to attend a party?
LM: That was….Now Cliff Warner was in the seventh grade with me and he was sort of sweet on me and the kids, of course, sort of kidded us and all and so on. He and his brother, almost the same age, had come up from New York or Brooklyn with their mother and their mother’s companion or friend. They had rented for several years the house which was Dr. Speer’s on the Millerton Road, the big white house that set back and up quite a ways.
RS: Oh, yes.
LM: His father was a photographer, I think. But I think his mother and father had separated. So she came up with her boys. Why she ever came here I never did know, but they were in school, in our local schools.
LM: And one… the year of my seventh grade my father did not take a pastorate and we three came here.
RS: Yes, I remember.
LM: And so I went to school and, of course, the friends that I made of my own age pretty much stemmed from that year because, although I had known Annie Schaffer down here and Paul Andrews and played all this territory with them and that was before that. My best friends were Virginia Thrall, who lives in Seattle now, and Miriam Everts, who died a few years ago.
LM: She worked for the water company for many years.
RS: You mentioned that her sister is still alive, Tryphena.
LM: Tryphena. Now what is her name? I can go find it right on the list.
LM: Tryphena, Tryphena. I used to be able to put the two together without trouble, but I can’t now.
RS: But she lived on Montgomery Street.
LM: Yes. She was considerably younger.
RS: When you were picked up by that young Mr. Warner who was sweet on you…
LM: Oh, yes. Well, I was all dressed up and I went to the station all by myself, you know, I took this long trip [laughs] and I got off at the Ore Hill. I don’t know if there was even a station there, but there was a stop at any rate. Cliff was waiting for me: then we walked up the hill to his birthday party.
RS: Do you remember what sort of games were played at that time? How they celebrated birthdays?
LM: Oh, I don’t know. I know that around here we just played all over the place. This was all absolutely empty. You could see way up to the top of the hill there, as far as that goes, all open pasture because the cows were really being pastured there and they kept it clipped So during the years everything has grown up. This dense that you see. My mother painted a picture that shows how open it was, with only a few …It is in the house there hanging up, I could show it to you.
RS: I’d like to see it.
LM: So we played on the rooks and oh, we played just whatever kids do. I don’t know whether we had a jump rope. I had a jump rope once but whether it was here or where I had it. I don’t know.
RS: Did you do any bicycling?
LM: Well, I learned to ride a bicycle, but it wasn’t until I got into high school, actually, that I had a bicycle. I think my Aunt Mary was one of the….I think she must have been one of the first bicyclists here, you know, a comparatively young woman and she wore bloomers, you know, and I think we still have those bloomers probably in a costume trunk right in here. But, anyhow, I can see Aunt Mary getting on the bicycle with her bloomers and go riding off. I think she must have been one of the very first that kinda pioneers, you know. But I didn’t learn to ride until it was sort of necessary for me to be able to ride. We lived at Highland, which is three and a half miles from Cold Spring on the Hudson, which in its turn is directly across from West Point.
LM: There is a little launch that goes across, takes people across. Or you can drive down to Garrison and go across on the ferry or something. But at that time I went to high school, I was at, from the seventh grade here, I went directly into high school so I missed the eighth grade. The reason was this. It was just my good luck because it really made a lot of difference in the timing of my whole education. But Mr. Montrose was a Methodist minister here: his brother was the principal of Haldane High School in Cold Spring. So when I transferred from the higher education of the seventh grade, Monty, we called him, put me right into….I mean I was put right into high school and I was ready for it
RS: I am sure.
LM: So that it did. It was just one thing that just luckily happened to me that I didn’t have to do that, but when I came to teach, when I first went to Dennison Vocational School in Washington in 1935. L they did not have any art program. In fact, when I went down there after I left Syracuse with the girls, cousin Sadie, who was Cousin Elliot’s wife said you come down here and Elliot will get you into the school system here.